You might say the week is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workweek, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Weekly Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past seven days -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
DAMASCUS, Va. -- Authorities believe the driver who plowed into dozens of hikers marching in a Virginia mountain town parade suffered from a medical condition and did not cause the crash intentionally, an emergency official said Sunday.
Officials did not have a formal confirmation or any specifics on the condition, but based on the accounts of authorities and witnesses on the scene, they are confident the issue was medical, said Pokey Harris, Washington County's director of emergency management. "There is no reason to believe this was intentional," she said.Read More... More on News
I'm in Philly for the weekend, determined to prove I can have a great time by spending the least amount of cash possible –– $100 or less.
So far, so awesome. I've taken advantage of just about every free attraction the city has to offer, paid next to nothing to get around thanks to my new favorite app SideCar, and managed to find a wealth of cheap eats with help from BI readers and some friendly locals.
But as of this morning I had yet to conquer the challenge that faces every first-time Philly visitor –– finding the perfect Philly cheesesteak.
Little did I know, I'd find it in the last place I'd ever guess.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) who has been to Philly or lived in Philly or simply heard of Philly has an opinion on which of the two leading cheesesteak rivals –– Pat's and Geno's –– is best.
I tried polling Twitterers to get a sense of which was more popular. It was like listening to fans battle over their favorite football team.
@mandiwoodruff I promise if you go to Geno's it'll be so good you'll take the wrapper home with you— CoursenSecurityGroup (@CoursenSecurity) May 19, 2013
@mandiwoodruff was out there a couple weeks ago... Geno's and all the other places were horrid... We have better street meat here— Drew Brenner (@owndjoo852) May 19, 2013
To be honest, I swung by both Pat's and Geno's Saturday night. Between the Vegas Strip lighting situation and mile-long lines, I lost my appetite altogether.See the rest of the story at Business Insider
We were a little sad to see Chris Hadfield leave the ISS earlier this month, but we're glad he's back safely, and that he's still tweeting about every step of the readjustment process.
While Hadfield was making his return trip home, he was unable to keep the world updated on his every move, so his son Evan took the reins on his own Twitter account. When Commander Hadfield was back safe and sound on Earth he didn't wait long to start tweeting again:
More about Chris Hughes, Us World, World, Conversations, and Chris Hadfield
Digital media company and ad sales platform Ziff Davis is expanding its network of properties even further with the purchase of NetShelter’s display advertising business, a well-placed source has informed us. The source couldn’t share exact terms of the deal, but did reveal that InPowered, the product that NetShelter has increasingly focused on (to the point that it largely rebranded itself under that name last November), will be split into two teams, with half heading to Ziff Davis as part of the arrangement.
NetShelter/inPowered is a digital advertising network that focuses solely on tech publications, including SlashGear, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Crackberry, IntoMobile and many more. It claims over 150 million global readers reached, which adds a not-insignificant audience to the existing Ziff Davis portfolio. Ziff Davis counts a number of top tech sites among its own list of clients, including PCMag and Geek.com.
The deal makes sense for both companies, as NetShelter has been focused squarely on more of a content marketing play, which culminated in its launch of the InPowered product and later rebranding as the same. When Anthony covered that identity shift back in November, he noted that NetShelter CEO and co-founder Peyman Nilforoush believed that direct banner advertising was ultimately not the way forward for online ads, and that a means of surfacing so-called “earned” media, or positive reviews collected from independent sources, was much better for brands in the long run.
NetShelter/InPowered’s display ad business gave it ample reach from which to sell its next-generation vision of online advertising, but if the company is serious about focusing its efforts in that area, a sale to someone like Ziff Davis makes perfect sense, in terms of generating some capital for reinvesting in the new direction. Our source says that Ziff Davis will take over both publisher relationships as well as the display side of the business, with InPowered’s “expert word of mouth” model remaining with the original company.
We contacted NetShelter’s founders and the PR team for further information or confirmation on the news, but had not heard back as of press time.
Additional reporting by Anthony Ha.
But that's just the way it is for space these days: unless you're a CG-animated robot or an earth-killing asteroid in the world of celluloid (movies, folks), you're just not going to get any play.
From a Time write up on Hadfield:
Quick: How many people are currently aboard the International Space Station? Anybody? How many people even knew there was an International Space Station?
Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Well there is one, it’s an awfully cool machine and thanks to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, a lot more people now know just how cool.
Hadfield himself is a pretty cool dude. He was an ace pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces. Flew F-18s ... on intercept missions for NORAD. He was the first jet that intercepted the Russian Tupalev bomber during bilateral war games.
Pretty smart too. Bachelor's in mechanical engineering. Masters in aviation systems. And he's sung a now-David Bowie-endorsed version of Major Tom while floating around in space.
Upon hearing Hadfield's rendition, Bowie said, "It’s possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.”
Simply boss.So we felt it necessary here at Business Insider to sort of curate some of his best videos.
Without further ado — here's "How you puke in space":
Incredible Canadian space food:
How to take care of a space station spill:
How Astronauts cry in space:
Brushing teeth in space:
Preparing zero-g treats:
Finally, Space Oddity:
Lets say you’ve come up with a brilliant idea for some shiny new piece of hardware. You brush up your coding chops, scratch out a design, and set out to build a prototype.
First, you’ll need a programmable chip to act as the brain. Because of the relatively gentle learning curve and friendly community, you go with the Arduino. The problem: your hardware idea requires WiFi.
Until now, that’s actually been a pretty complicated issue.
It’s not that Arduinos couldn’t do WiFi before — it’s just always been a bit of a pain. You had two main options, neither of them perfect:
- You could buy a WiFi shield. “Shields” are optional attachments built for the Arduino to give them more functionality, like sound playback/recording, ethernet, or WiFi. The downside here: WiFi shields are expensive (2-3x the cost of the Arduino itself), bulky, and often tough to find in a pinch.
- You could buy a “clone” board with WiFi built-in. Clones are unofficial Arduinos built by third parties. The problem there: if something went wrong, you’d have to hope someone in the community was familiar with whatever clone board you opted to use.
At this weekend’s Maker Faire, the company announced the Arduino Yún (with Yún being Chinese for “cloud” and English for “Yeah, most people are probably just going to type Yun without the fancy ú.”), the first official Arduino to come with WiFi functionality built-in out of the box.
At its core, the Yún is actually part traditional Arduino and part Linux system. The Arduino handles all of the functionality it traditionally would — running your code, reading from sensors, etc — while an itty-bitty Linux-powered chip acts as both a WiFi receiver and transmitter, handling all of the HTTP gruntwork needed to get your hardware project online. Plus: you can reprogram the Arduino Yún over WiFi, no USB cable required.
Lost in geek-speak here? Wondering what all of this means to you? Basically, one of the most popular platforms for DIY hardware projects has just made it a whole lot easier to get said projects connected to the Internet. Want a coffee maker that starts brewing 30 minutes before Google Calendar says you’ve got guests coming over? Sure, why not. Want an alarm that automatically donates money from your PayPal when you hit the snooze button? Totally doable.
Just this week, a project focused on building a high-quality, WiFi-enabled, Arduino-compatible board raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter. That’s over 30x their initial goal of $10,000, and they’ve still got nearly 2 weeks left. There’s definitely a lot of interest in such a thing.
The Yún should start shipping at the end of June, and will cost about $69. That’s about twice the cost of the WiFi-less Arduinos available today, but still significantly cheaper (and more compact) than buying both an Arduino and an add-on WiFi-shield.
OSLO, May 19 (Reuters) - Extreme global warming is less likely in coming decades after a slowdown in the pace of temperature rises so far this century, an international team of scientists said on Sunday. Warming is still on track, however, to breach a goal set by governments around the world of limiting the increase in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, unless tough action is taken to limit rising greenhouse gas emissions. "The most extreme rates of warming simulated by the current generation of climate models over 50- to 100-year timescales are looking less likely," the University of Oxford wrote about the findings in the journal Nature Geoscience. The rate of global warming has slowed after strong rises in the 1980s and 1990s, even though all the 10 warmest years since reliable records began in the 1850s have been since 1998. The slowdown has been a puzzle because emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases have continued to rise, led by strong industrial growth in China. Examining recent temperatures, the experts said that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere above pre-industrial times - possible by mid-century on current trends - would push up temperatures by between 0.9 and 2.0 degrees Celsius (1.6 and 3.6F). That is below estimates made by the U.N. panel of climate scientists in 2007, of a rise of between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius (1.8-5.4F) as the immediate response to a doubling of carbon concentrations, known as the transient climate response. OCEANS The U.N. panel also estimated that a doubling of carbon dioxide, after accounting for melting of ice and absorption by the oceans that it would cause over hundreds of years, would eventually lead to a temperature rise of between 2 and 4.5 C (3.6-8.1F). Findings in the new study, by experts in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and Norway, broadly matched that range for the long-term response. But for government policy makers "the transient response over the next 50-100 years is what matters," lead author Alexander Otto of Oxford University said in a statement. The oceans appear to be taking up more heat in recent years, masking a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that passed 400 parts per million this month for the first time in human history, up 40 percent from pre-industrial levels. Professor Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich, one of the authors, said that the lower numbers for coming decades were welcome. But "we are still looking at warming well over the two degree goal that countries have agreed upon if current emission trends continue," he said. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 Celsius (1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution and two degrees C is widely viewed as a threshold to dangerous changes such as more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels. "The oceans are sequestering heat more rapidly than expected over the last decade," said Professor Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales in Australia, who was not involved in the study. "By assuming that this behaviour will continue, (the scientists) calculate that the climate will warm about 20 percent more slowly than previously expected, although over the long term it may be just as bad, since eventually the ocean will stop taking up heat." He said findings "need to be taken with a large grain of salt" because of uncertainties about the oceans. (Editing by Robin Pomeroy)Read More... More on Climate Change
When Samsung unveiled its first 4K Ultra HD TV at CES this year, it said other sizes would follow, both larger and smaller than the initial 85-inch version. Now it's apparently ready to fulfill part of that promise, announcing in Korea that 65- and 55-inch models will launch next month. Of course our next question is how these smaller models will compare to the $39,999 MSRP 85S9 UHD TV in price. Hopefully they'll follow the path blazed by Sony, which recently introduced models at that size with pricing well below the $10,000 benchmark, although we expect Seiki's 50-incher will still hold the crown for value pricing. The press release mentions they will feature Samsung's upgradeable Smart TV platform and the "micro dimming ultimate" LED lighting of their larger cousin, but the odd "Timeless Gallery" frame / stand (pictured above on the 85-incher) was not listed.
Source: Korea Newswire
It's shaping up to be another rough day for fans of precious metals, especially silver.
More broadly, silver and gold have been getting poleaxed in recent weeks and months.
Sam Ro earlier posted a chart from Credit Suisse, which explains that there are two driving factors.
One is that the fear of Armageddon is fading (which they express by showing declining sovereign debt yields in Spain and Italy).
The other is that interest rates are normalizing, and coming out of their ultra-low crisis level. Ultra-low interest rates diminish the appeal of holding currency, and boost the appeal of gold. Reverse that, and the appeal of gold goes away.
Those two charts explain it all:
NEW YORK -- Conductor James Levine has returned from an absence of more than two years to lead the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in a concert at Carnegie Hall.
The 69-year-old Levine was left partially paralyzed by a fall in August 2011 and is regaining use of his legs. He conducted from a motorized wheelchair lifted about 3 feet in the air by a mechanical podium constructed for his use by the Met.Read More... More on Music
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
There were a lot of great apps and updates released this week.
Google announced two big apps during the keynote at its annual developer conference Google I/O. One app breaks out the Hangout feature of Google+ into its own standalone app. The other, brings a whole new music streaming service to Google Play.
Airbnb updated its Android app this week to make things easier on hosts, and Pinterest launched an update, enhancing its experience for Android users as well.
Curious what all these apps look like?
Check out a hands-on with some of our favorite apps from the week in the video above
Did you find a new app this week that didn't make the list? Be sure to tell us about your favorites from the week in the comments. Read more...More about Iphone, Android, App, Tech, and Apps Software
Dimon, widely considered the most powerful banker in the country, holds the positions of both CEO and chairman of JP Morgan's board. It's the largest bank in the U.S., and complaints from regulators, and the sting of a $6 billion trading loss last year have given more ammunition to those who've asked for some time now — is JP Morgan too big to manage?
The specific question at hand is whether or not one man, even one with Dimon's talent, can be both the CEO and the chairman of the board that is supposed to judge the CEO's performance for shareholders.
At last year's meeting, 40% of shareholders answered "no" to that question. This year it looks like there will be more. Proxy advisors, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, have advised JP Morgan shareholders to vote in favor of splitting the two roles.
As bold as ever, Dimon has said that if that happens, he will leave the bank entirely. He will have it all or nothing — and he's fighting hard for the former. Last week, The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (an organization of which JP Morgan is a part) asked Broadridge, the company tallying incoming shareholder votes, to stop sharing the results with Dimon's detractors.
Seeing the votes as they come in, would, after all, give the board and Dimon a significant advantage. This is a spin game, where getting the right message to the right people is everything. With voting information, the board will know who to target and how.
Michael Garland, who oversees corporate governance for New York City Comptroller John Liu, one of the fund investors behind the proposal, said May 6 was the last time he learned from Broadridge how the voting was going. "It is hard to know what kind of strategy to pursue and what kind of resources to invest," Garland said.
But it may be too late in the game for that to make a difference. For the last week the financial media has sounded like this — CEOs (and former CEOs) of all shapes and sizes sounding off about how great Dimon is at his job. Some say his detractors are just jealous, others say he's the best manager in the world and that JP Morgan would be sunk without his leadership, etc.
Those comments make for decent headlines, but they don't erase the fact that, as Businessweek pointed out, the litigation section of JP Morgan's quarterly reports runs to 18 single-spaced pages.
Additionally, they do not change the fact that Washington has made it clear that it is growing tired of hearing of misbehavior coming from the House of Dimon — in energy trading, or with Bernie Madoff's accounts, for example.
Regardless, JP Morgan bankers seem completely unworried about who will be captaining their ship in the coming years. It will be Jamie, and in their view he doesn't need a boss.
There is no succession plan for his departure in the event of disaster either, as Reuters' Felix Salmon pointed out. But the view from inside JP Morgan is that there doesn't need to be one. Dimons are forever.
Everyone loves a steamy reality TV show. And everyone loves a cute kid. Jimmy Kimmel combined the two with a reality show starring a cute kid: Baby Bachelor.
In the genius sketch for Jimmy Kimmel Live, the adorable toddler Wesley (Kimmel's nephew) meets other adorable toddlers in hopes of finding true kiddy love. The kid version of the show promises to be just as drama packed as ABC's primetime Bachelor, with its hair pulling and wine throwing.
Wesley, here's to hoping you find a lady friend who loves dinosaurs as much as you. And remember, if this doesn't work out, there's always Baby Dancing With the Stars to look forward to next. Read more...More about Viral Videos, Jimmy Kimmel, Cute Kids, Watercooler, and Videos
EDMOND, Okla. -- A powerful storm system rumbled through the Plains and upper Midwest on Sunday, spawning tornadoes that damaged roofs and structures near Oklahoma City and kicked up debris in Wichita, Kan.
There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by the funnel cloud that touched down in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond before moving off to the northeast, or the one that touched down near Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport late Sunday afternoon.Read More... More on Tornadoes
If it wasn't obvious at its launch in November, then this past week should have made it clear: The Wii U is functionally irrelevant to sports video games, and there is no reason for any sports fan to buy the console. The only question now is how much that will really matter to the fate of the machine.
A few years ago, then 13-year-old Nicky Bronner woke woke up the day after Halloween to find that his dad had taken away a big chunk of his Halloween Candy.
He was outraged.
So he set out to prove his father wrong, but he soon realized that his dad was right. Candy is bad for you.
"It's the only time I ever admitted to him he was right," Nicky tells us. "I asked him why it couldn't be done with just peanut butter and chocolate (Bronner's favorite candy). That's where the basis came from. We wanted to do [candy] the right way."
Now 16 years old, Nicky is managing the task of co-running a startup with his father, two-time entrepreneur and angel investor Michael Bronner.
UNREAL offers a line of candies that are just as delicious as their mainstream counterparts, but without all the junk.
UNREAL doesn't use any corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial ingredients, genetically modified organisms, or preservatives. Instead, it uses all natural ingredients and is made with 40% less sugar than candies from major brands.
But just because UNREAL's candies are healthier, it doesn't mean you should wolf down an entire bag of them.
"It's still candy," Nicky says. "It's better but we still prefer that when you want something to eat, you grab an Apple. But we've done our best so that when you want a candy bar, it's a nice alternative [to traditional candies]."
Since Nicky is home-schooled, he's not able to work full-time on the company, but hopes to become more involved in the company's marketing efforts.
But thanks to Bronner's connections, UNREAL Candy already has a pretty impressive roster of celebrities who stand behind Unreal's mission to unjunk candy. That includes musician John Legend, Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, actor Matt Damon, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, and football player Tom Brady.
"People respect it so they want to get behind it," Nicky says.
In a little less than a year since launching, Unreal has made its way into about 18,000 stores nationwide, including major retailers like CVS and Target. It expects to be in 25,000 stores by the end of this year.
Other than celebrities, UNREAL Candy has also attracted some venture capitalists. Its raised "tens of millions" of dollars from Khosla Ventures and Raptor Consumer Partners. Over the last year, investors have put in nearly $350 million into food startups.
In the future, UNREAL plans to move beyond candy and unjunk traditional snack foods.
The Billboard Awards (you know, the music awards show that's not the Grammys and not the MTV Video Music Awards) are here! That means it's time yet again to honor the biggest names in the music biz, from Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 to fun. (each nominated in 11 categories). Also finalists: Rihanna, Carly Rae Jepsen and One Direction -- cue the T-Swift and Harry Styles drama...
But forget the awards -- it's all about the clothes! Since the award shows take place in Las Vegas, we're looking forward to glitter, cutouts, neon and more glitter. Who will be best-dressed? Who will commit a sartorial stumble? And who will make a style statement like Miley Cyrus' pantsless Jean Paul Gaultier look to be remembered for years to come?
See all the fashion in our red carpet slideshow and watch the red carpet livestream at JustJared.com.Read More... More on Video
Debtors with high interest rates on their federal student loans would refinance into cheaper loans under proposed legislation to be unveiled this week, in a move that would lower borrowers’ burdens and potentially hurt private lenders and investors.
The plan sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) would force the U.S. Secretary of Education to automatically refinance most government loans carrying interest rates above 4 percent into fixed, 4-percent loans. Roughly nine of 10 federally-backed loans would be affected, saving nearly 37 million borrowers billions of dollars in annual interest payments.
“At a time when corporations, homeowners and even local governments are refinancing at historically low interest rates and saving millions of dollars, students and families who take out loans to pay for college are getting left behind," Gillibrand said. "Ensuring that our graduates are not saddled with unmanageable debt by keeping interest rates low is just common sense."Read More... More on Student Loans
Fans of precious metals have been getting creamed lately.
Thanks to declining volatility and a growing sense that real interest rates are on the rise, gold and silver have been getting taken to the woodshed.
And in early Asian trading there's no letup. Silver is getting demolished.
From Kitco, here's the sharp downward spike.
As you can see here, the decline in gold is more muted, but still visible.
Silver's not the only thing going wild.
The yen — which everyone is watching — has been jumping around in early going, with it sharpening notably right at the open, before weakening again.
Meanwhile, fans of the precious metals are likely to point to various excuses for the bad price action.
The latest talk is that it has something to do with ETF liquidations, and big mysterious trades that happened on Friday.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
It's never too late for an aging rock outfit to reinvent itself, as Stone Temple Pilots set out to prove by inviting Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington to perform with the band in the studio and in concert.
Bennington made a surprise performance with STP at KROQ's annual Weenie Roast concert Saturday night, according to Rolling Stone. He sang some of the band's biggest hits from the '90s like "Vasoline," "Plush" and "Interstate Love Song."
Stone Temple Pilots also performed its new song recorded with Bennington, "Out of Time." A teaser of the song was put on YouTube Saturday, before the band released the whole thing for download. Read more...More about Youtube, Music, Linkinpark, Entertainment, and Videos
While it was missing the skydiving antics of last year’s event, Google’s I/O keynote last week wasn’t short on product launches. In between the splashy updates to Google Maps, Search, Android and everything else Google announced, the company also briefly talked about Web Components for a few minutes. While Google’s Sundar Pichai noted that it’s still early days for this technology, he also said he believes that “the vision for it is clear” and that it will allow developers to build “elegant user interfaces that work across all form factors.”
Web Components are clearly a topic that’s close to the heart of a number of Chrome developers. Many of them, for example, cited it as one of the Chrome features they are most excited about at a fireside chat later in the week.
A number of Google engineers are also working on Project Polymer, which aims to write a web application framework that’s built upon the idea of Web Components and will allow developers to use the ideas behind Web Components on browsers that don’t even feature all of the necessary technologies yet.
The fact that it made an appearance during the keynote, right next to WebGL and other more established web development techniques, makes it pretty obvious that this is a technology that Google believes has the potential to change how developers write web apps going forward.
It’s worth noting that, for the time being, developers can’t rely on this to work in all browsers. Chrome Canary includes support for Web Components, but it’s hidden behind a number of flags. Mozilla will likely start adding support for it in Firefox soon, too. Most importantly, though, the Polymer project aims to bring the concept to all browsers with the help of a polyfill.
Web Components relies on four pieces – the template element, decorators (which apply templates to CSS), custom elements (which allow developers to create their own elements) and the Shadow DOM (which sounds ominous, but which really just defines how all of the other pieces play together and shield the other three pieces from the regular DOM if necessary).
Putting all of this together, including Custom Elements, developers can suddenly create their own HTML tags like after creating them using the tag. they can also extend existing elements. In addition, Web Components also allow developers to more easily separate content from presentation and the Shadow DOM ensures that the styles you create for the rest of your site don’t interfere with the widgets you build using Web Components.
All of this sounds pretty dry, but if it catches on – and there is no reason to think it won’t – this will change how developers write web apps (Google’s Eric Bidelman calls it a “tectonic shift for web development”) and there are some inherent advantages to Web Components that will also help it speed up the web browsing experience for users. In the end, though, this represents a completely new way for writing web applications and it will probably take a bit before the repercussions of this evolutions fully sink in.
If you want to take a deeper dive into this topic, take a look at this presentation here.
By Mohammed Abbas LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron is "losing control of his party", Conservative Party grandee Geoffrey Howe said on Sunday, as a row raged over whether a close aide to Cameron had labelled grassroots activists "mad, swivel-eyed loons". The furore threatens to further alienate Cameron and his inner circle from the core of his party, with whom ties are already almost at breaking point. Differences with the grassroots over Britain's membership of the European Union and Cameron's support for legalising same-sex marriage have raised questions over his leadership and could hurt the party's chances in the next election, due in 2015. "Sadly, by making it clear in January that he opposes the current terms of UK membership of the EU, the prime minister has opened a Pandora's box politically and seems to be losing control of his party in the process," Howe wrote in an article for the Observer newspaper. Howe was former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's longest-serving cabinet minister, but fell out with her over relations with Europe and is best remembered for a scathing resignation speech that helped topple her as leader in 1990. Cameron's Conservatives have been rattled by the surging popularity of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), whose main aims are to pull Britain out of the EU and curb immigration. Its rise has fuelled a heated national debate over whether Britain derives sufficient benefits from EU membership to outweigh the financial cost and the ceding of some important powers to Brussels, like the ability to limit immigrants from the other 26 countries in the union. An opinion poll by pollster ComRes for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday newspapers put support for UKIP at 19 percent, which ComRes said was the highest level the party had achieved in any survey yet. The opposition Labour party led with 35 percent, while the Conservatives were on 29 percent and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners on 8. "The ratchet-effect of Euroscepticism has now gone so far that the Conservative leadership is in effect running scared of its own backbenchers, let alone UKIP," Howe said, referring to the hundreds of rank-and-file Conservative members of parliament who occupy the rows of seats behind Cameron and his ministers. REFERENDUM PROMISE In January, Cameron promised that if the Conservatives won the 2015 election they would call a national referendum in 2017 on whether Britain should stay in or leave the EU. But that did not go far enough for many Conservatives, who last week forced him to back a new bill that would enshrine it in law. The Conservatives' restive right wing also last week voted to criticise the government's legislative agenda for not including such a bill in the first place, an unusual move in British politics that embarrassed Cameron. Compounding Cameron's problems are media reports that an un-named close aide, at a private dinner last week, described the Conservative grassroots as "swivel-eyed loons". Cameron's office says the comment did not come from them, and insist the prime minister is still in charge of his party. The row comes at an especially bad time for Cameron, whose flagship bill to legalise same-sex marriage will be debated in parliament this week. Conservative activists wrote to Cameron on Sunday warning that the move would boost UKIP's membership. "The prime minister seems to have gathered around himself a metropolitan elite who seem to inhabit a different planet to most of us ... Droves of previously loyal Conservative Party members are leaving," Bob Woollard, chairman of the Conservative Grassroots umbrella group, told the BBC. Cameron says he would like to do more to satisfy the Conservative core, but is held back by being in coalition with the left-leaning Liberal Democrats. Ties between the two parties have frequently come under strain since they teamed up in 2010, but they have pledged to stay together to help revive Britain's weak economy. However, in an article published on Sunday, Cameron hinted that he could end the partnership before the 2015 election. "Can we improve the state of the country? Can we fulfil our manifesto? The best way to do that is to continue with the coalition, but if that wasn't the case then we'd have to face the new circumstances in whatever way we should," he told Britain's Total Politics magazine. (Editing by Mark Trevelyan)Read More... More on Video
It's unclear if there were any casualties. Nevertheless the town is irrevocably changed the moment munitions hit it.
"The air force is extremely important for Assad right now," said Joseph Holliday, a Syria analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, told The Associated Press. "It has allowed Assad to prevent rebels from establishing a part of Syria where people can be safe and the opposition can focus on governing the place."
A recent investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found the Syrian Air Force "has repeatedly carried out indiscriminate, and in some cases deliberate, air strikes against civilians."
The video also shows damage to buildings and the rescuing of children after airstrikes in the nearby town of Douma.
The video cannot be independently verified.
If You Missed It: ASSAD: Peace Talks Will Fail And America Will 'Deal With' Regime Victory
BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk broke a tie midway through the second period, and the Boston Bruins scored two goals in the third to beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Sunday and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Boychuk put a 40-foot shot from the right inside the near post for his third playoff goal to make it 3-2 at 12:08. Brad Marchand, whose overtime goal won the opener, and Milan Lucic stretched the Bruins' lead in the final period.Read More... More on 2013 NHL PLayoffs
"The debate on S&P 500 net margins never seems to go away," wrote Deutsche Bank's David Bianco.
"One of the most common bearish arguments that we hear from clients is that margins are mean-reverting," wrote Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Dan Suzuki.
Both Bianco and Suzuki concluded that margins were sustainable and were unlikely to collapse to historic means. This refutes the work of John Hussman and GMO's Jeremy Grantham, both who have warned that falling margins would crush profits and hinder the long-term returns on stocks.
It's All About Low Interest Expense And Low Tax Rates
On Saturday, we discussed the findings of Suzuki.
"Importantly, roughly two-thirds of the improvement in net margins can be attributed to changes below the operating line, specifically interest expense and taxes," noted Suzuki regarding the increase in margins since 1995. Suzuki went on to argue why interest expense and taxes were unlikely to rise anytime soon.
Like Suzuki, Deutsche Bank's David Bianco also decomposed gains in profit margins since 1995. While Bianco's numbers are slightly different, his conclusions were essentially the same.
"Net margins are higher from structural factors... not cost cutting," said Bianco.
So What Are The Bears Getting Wrong?
Margin bears have been emphasizing how companies have improved profitability by laying off workers and squeezing the workers who they kept.
The bears' thesis has been supported by the persistently high unemployment rate and stagnant wage growth.
But the findings of Bianco and Suzuki show that that the bears' concerns are relatively small and more than offset by gains the forces of lower interest expense and taxes.
To get a better sense of this debunking, you need to look at operating margins, which are profits before interest and tax.
Bianco and Suzuki examined operating margins from different angles but nevertheless arrived at similar conclusions.
Tech And Energy Operating Margins
"S&P 500 Non-Financial operating margins are currently about 12.0% vs. their historical average of 10.6%," writes Suzuki. "This is entirely due to increases in profitability and contribution from Tech and Energy."
Suzuki notes that tech and energy operating margins have undergone significant structural changes.
Tech sector margins have benefitted from industry maturation. You see, young tech industries operate at losses or very slim margins as they get their companies off of the ground. Today, the once young tech companies have established themselves and built up the scale to maintain a higher level of profitability.
Energy is benefiting from massive structural changes. Back in the 80's and 90's, oil prices were at around $20/barrel. But thanks to emerging market demand, oil is trading around $90/barrel today. And oil prices and energy industry margins are very tightly correlated. Suzuki says that oil would have to plunge back to around $30 for margins to revert to a mean. This is unlikely.
"Excluding these sectors, operating margins of 11% are only 65bp above their historical average," said Suzuki. "While we agree that both earnings and margins are cyclically elevated, operating margins appear in-line with historical non-recessionary periods (Chart 12)."
As you can see from the chart below, there's nothing spectacular about operating margins today.
Another way to look at operating margins is by geography. Bianco does a nice job of this in his devastating 18-page report.
Keep in mind that it tends to be cheaper to operate overseas thanks to stuff like low labor costs and property expenses.
"Since 2000 in aggregate S&P foreign pre-tax margins have been higher than pretax domestic margins and gap is widening," wrote Bianco. "This is because – 1) high margin businesses are the ones that are expanding abroad; and 2) their foreign operations became more profitable in the 2000s after the mostly investment stage of the 1990s. As companies with high foreign sales are becoming a larger share of the S&P, aggregate foreign operating margins are climbing."
And we can't forget about taxes. It's well known that corporate tax rates are lower overseas. So the more companies expand out there, the lower their effective tax rates become.
Bianco provides another eye-opening chart aggregating the net margins of companies with high foreign sales and those with no foreign sales.
As you can see from his sample, the profit margins of U.S. companies selling to U.S. customers doesn't seem to be anywhere close to a level that would warrant a collapse.
Neither Bianco nor Suzuki will deny that profit margins are high and are at risk of pulling back.
However, they both aim to make clear that profit margins are high due to long-term structural factors, not short-term cyclical factors.
It appears both have accomplished this very convincingly.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Two FBI special agents on the agency's elite Hostage Rescue Team have been killed in a training accident in Virginia.
The FBI's national press office said in a statement Sunday that the accident happened off the coast of Virginia Beach on Friday. No other details were given and the cause is under investigation.Read More... More on FBI
Last year, more than two-thirds of all people surveyed said they felt safe walking alone at night, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 134 countries. But in 31 countries, less than half the population felt this way. In Venezuela and South Africa, nearly three out of four people reported feeling unsafe.
Internal conflict and repressive regimes are marked problems in many of countries where citizens feel unsafe. In Afghanistan, which received the worst possible rating from the Economist Intelligence Unit for internal organized conflict, the government continues to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In both Madagascar and Gabon, recent changes in political power have led to tension among opponents.Read More...
The announcement of the Acer Aspire R7 was the best example of the company's assertion that it was moving from computers designed with touch to computers designed for touch. But if having a fancy, even unprecedented, hinge is what defines a touch-optimized notebook, Acer is a bit late to the party.
Last October, Switched On discussed the role that laptop-tablet hybrids -- namely convertibles and detachables -- would play in the differentiation of Windows 8 devices. Both types have seen their share of support. Detachables have included HP's Envy x2, ASUS' Transformer-inspired VivoTab and Microsoft's Surface. (Dell's XPS 10 is available only with Windows RT.)
Smartphones have made taking panoramic photos easy for even amateur iPhotographers (or photoids). Unfortunately, easy doesn't always mean stellar quality.
Panoramic fails have resulted in disembodied heads, extra-long Corgis and funhouse mirror-style bodies. Ouch
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BRUSSELS, May 19 (Reuters) - The European Union criticised Russia's human rights record on Sunday, saying it was increasingly concerned at a wave of restrictive legislation and prosecutions against activists. The 27-nation bloc cited the cases of protesters arrested at a demonstration on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration last year who are still awaiting trial, and a new law requiring charities with funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents". "Both sides discussed at length the worrying situation of civil society in the Russian Federation," the EU said in a statement, which followed a meeting on human rights with Russian officials in Brussels on Friday. Human rights groups in Russia accuse Putin of a clampdown on dissent since he returned as president, which they say is designed to tighten his grip on power. On a trip to Moscow this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry avoided harsh criticism of Russia's record on civil liberties as he sought the Kremlin's help in securing a political solution to the conflict in Syria. The European Union said it would closely watch developments affecting non-governmental organisations in Russia, and asked the government to ensure that defence lawyers were able to work freely. The Kremlin has denied carrying out a crackdown on opponents and says it does not use the courts for political ends. (Reporting by Charlie Dunmore; Editing by Alison Williams)Read More... More on Human Rights
Looks like Bella Thorne won't be the only Disney star trying her hand at writing: her "Shake It Up" co-star (and "Dancing With The Stars" champ) Zendaya Coleman announced this week that she has signed her own book deal.
Zendaya's book will also be for a tweenage audience and, unlike Bella's, it will be non-fiction. The title is Between U and Me: How To Rock Your Tween Years With Style And Confidence and apparently she wrote most of the book last year.Read More...
* Says Washington beset by partisan politics * Gets personal about race, imperfections By Steve Holland ATLANTA, May 19 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama complained on Sunday that partisan battles in Washington are holding back stronger U.S. economic growth as he tried to recover from one of the most difficult weeks of his presidency. On a trip to Atlanta, Obama did not specifically mention the three controversies that engulfed his administration last week and raised questions as to how much of his second-term agenda he will be able to achieve. His message was clear when he told Democratic donors that an American economic revival is being held back by a "tendency in Washington to put politics ahead of policy, to put the next election ahead of the next generation, and that mindset is what we need to change." Obama's appearance in Atlanta came as he seeks to regain his footing from one of his worst weeks since taking office in early 2009. His Internal Revenue Service was found to have targeted his political tea party opponents for special attention, new questions were raised about security lapses at a U.S. compound in Libya last year where four Americans were killed, and it was revealed that his Justice Department had obtained phone records from Associated Press reporters in a leak probe. For now, voters seem not to be taking Obama to task. A CNN/ORC International poll released on Sunday showed 53 percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is doing his job, with 45 percent saying they disapprove. Obama found solace in speaking to donors at an event that raised money for Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate, and at a commencement address to hundreds of African-American graduates at all-male Morehouse College. To the donors, Obama said Washington needs to get beyond "the kind of short-term tactical partisan thinking that has come to so dominate" the U.S. capital and start trying to get some policy items completed. He said he remained optimistic that an immigration overhaul is possible despite the tumult. "It doesn't mean there's not going to be some rough and tumble," he said. "If you get into this business, folks are going to take their shots as you, and I've got the gray hair to prove it. But that kind of stuff doesn't bother me," he said. At Morehouse College, thunder rumbled overhead, lightning flashed in the distance and rain fell in buckets as Obama got personal about race. He urged the students to think about how they can serve the wider community as they move on in life and not just focus on material goods. "Yes, go get that law degree. But ask yourself if the only option is to defend the rich and powerful, or if you can also find time to defend the powerless," he said. Obama often speaks of how he wishes he could have had a father figure in his life growing up. His Kenyan-born father and Kansas-born mother divorced when Obama was a child, and he was raised by his mother and grandparents. On Sunday, he was more personal than usual, saying his wife, Michelle, "has a long list of my imperfections." "My whole life, I've tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn't for my mother and me. I've tried to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man," he said. PERSONAL REFLECTIONS Obama said he ultimately hopes to be remembered not for his record as president but as a family man. "I know that when I'm on my deathbed someday, I won't be thinking about any particular legislation I passed, or policy I promoted; I won't be thinking about the speech I gave, or the Nobel Prize I received. I'll be thinking about a walk I took with my daughters, a lazy afternoon with my wife, whether I did right by all of them," he said. Obama urged the graduates not to make excuses for hard times that may come their way. He said he made his own share of mistakes growing up. "And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down," he said. He said he has tried to use his abilities to help people less fortunate than himself. "There but for the grace of God, I might be in their shoes," Obama said. "I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family - and that motivates me." Nowadays, he said, people need to look beyond racism and discrimination in order to work together for a country that can compete around the world. (Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)Read More... More on Barack Obama
By Charlie Scott, Goal.com
Arsenal secured Champions League qualification for next season -- and a 16th in a row -- with a vital 1-0 win over Newcastle at St James' Park on the final day of the Premier League season, as Laurent Koscielny's second-half volley was enough to seal fourth place.
The Gunners' victory meant that regardless of how Tottenham got on against Sunderland at White Hart Lane, they would be the North Londoners appearing in the Champions League come September.Read More... More on Soccer